<![CDATA[Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA - Blog]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 00:20:25 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[EDPA Impact on property values - part 2]]>Tue, 17 Nov 2015 01:10:18 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/edpa-impact-on-property-values-part-2We know the EDPA will impact property values.  It will impact some more than others based on a number of factors.  However, it is basic economics that if you have two properties with similar characteristics, but one has an encumbrance like the EDPA, the EPDA property will have a lower value than the non-EDPA property.

Taking a very conservative estimate of 5% reduction of land values means that the EDPA will cost Saanich property owners impacted by the EDPA more than $100 million dollars.  In addition, that translates to $3.4 million in lost taxes over 5 years.

The reality is that the taxes will not be "lost".  Rather, the burden of taxation will shift from the owners of EDPA impacted properties to owners of non-EDPA impacted properties.

This is really a lose-lose proposition - EDPA owners lose a lot up front, while non-EDPA owners pay more each year.

We have heard from several realtors and 

<![CDATA[Saanich EDPA TownHall]]>Fri, 30 Oct 2015 03:28:09 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/saanich-edpa-townhallWhen: 7 P.M. Thursday, November 12, 2015.
Where: Garth Homer Centre at 813 Darwin Avenue, next to the Saanich Municipal Hall.
Saanich is hosting a public townhall focused on the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA). It is vital that all Saanich citizens attend to understand how this drastic bylaw affects them and their property.
For more information, go to: http://www.saanich.ca/living/about/news/2015/edpatownhallmeeting.html
To receive news related to the EDPA, please sign-up for our mailing list at http://edpa.ca

<![CDATA[Why SDPA and EDPA are different]]>Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:22:55 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/why-sdpa-and-edpa-are-differentI have heard people suggest that the EDPA is similar to the "successful" Streamside Environmental Permit Area (SDPA).  This is an interesting comparison.

1. If the SDPA was developed the way the EDPA was, likely most SDPA impacted property don't even know about it.  Similarly, likely realtors and buyers are unaware of what they are getting into, so SDPA impacts are not reflected in the prices of properties sold.

2. The SDPA protects streams, obviously.  People don't build on streams.  Most development that could impact SDPA (gardens, sheds, etc.) don't need development permits, so if you are ignorant of the SDPA, you will move forward without obtaining an SDPA permit, thereby defeating the purpose of the bylaw.

3. A steam either exists or doesn't.  Unlike the EDPA, where there is considerable professional debate on whether a whether certain ecosystems even exists, there is likely less debate about the very existence of the item that is being protected.

<![CDATA[EDPA Impact on property values starting to be felt]]>Sun, 20 Sep 2015 17:48:32 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/edpa-impact-on-property-values-starting-to-be-feltOne significant criticism of the EDPA is that it puts too high a financial burden on property owners.  Saanich staff and some on council believe that the EDPA has no impact, or even possibly it will increase the value of properties (despite basic economic principles that point to the opposite conclusion).

Well, we are starting to have concrete evidence that properties with EDPA restrictions are having significant impact.

EDPA properties are selling at less than assessed value or well below their market value when the EDPA is known to exist on a property.  This is key - as most buyers, sellers, and realtors have been unaware of the EPDA's existence - without knowledge, there is no disclosure.  Without disclosure, the financial impact of the EDPA is not reflecting in selling prices.

Example 1:
The sale of a home at 820 Rogers which had an EDPA and was assessed by BC Assessment at $792,000. The home was on the market 360 days to sell finally at $680,000 in June of this year.

Example 2:
1241 Maywood, a bare lot with an EDPA, assessed at $540,000 took over a year to sell finally in July for $375,000.

Example 3:
1249 Maywood was a bare building lot which had an EDPA and was assessed at $414,000. The lot took over a year to sell finally in July at $375,000.

Example 4:
One of our members had a professional appraisal done of their property.  The results, in writing, are that the EDPA has reduced the property's value by 25%.

It is clear - when the EDPA is known in the sale of a property, that properties value will be reduced.
<![CDATA[EDPA Impact on Land Values ]]>Mon, 01 Jun 2015 00:22:40 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/edpa-impact-on-land-valuesOne major concern of those directly impacted by the EDPA is its impact on property values.  This is not about investors hoping to maximize their rewards.  Rather, this is people who have bought land or houses, who have a mortgage, and who simply don't want to see their largest asset decrease in value unnecessarily.

Saanich News recently had an article about Larry Trupp, who explained the direct impact the EDPA has had on his parents' estate.  You can read about it here.

Some have spoken to BC Assessment and been told that there is no market evidence to support reduced land values caused by the EDPA.  There are two reasons for this:
1. If the buyer, the seller, and the realtor don't know about the EDPA, the impact of the EDPA won't be factored into the price.
2. Though the EDPA impacts a lot of properties, it takes time for properties to sell before the market evidence will show itself.

In the end, imagine a scenario where two similar properties are for sale.  One has no restrictions.  The other has significant development restrictions due to the EDPA.   Which one will sell for less? 
<![CDATA[Proposed Changes to the EDPA from Saanich staff]]>Sun, 10 May 2015 23:10:02 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/proposed-changes-to-the-edpa-from-saanich-staffI have attached a memo to the Environmental and Natural Areas Advisory Committee a memo from Saanich staff relating on the resources page.

Many have suggested that the problem with the EDPA is that it needs to be clarified so that the intent of council is better reflected.

This memo gives a hint as to what those clarifications might be, and makes for interesting reading.

This is a long post, forgive me, but there is a lot to cover.

Unfortunately, the 15 page memo does not seem to resolve any of the concerns raised by Saanich Citizens for a Responsible EDPA, and in fact highlights that Saanich staff intend to make the bylaw even more restrictive.

Page 1 highlights that only 24 EDPA permits have been received since the bylaw came into effect.  This is not surprising given that hardly anyone knows about it.  People are only ensnared when they apply for a normal development permit.  It would be interesting to know how many EDPA permit applications were received for development that is not also covered by a development permit.

The memo has three sections covering text amendments to the existing bylaw, options for responding to requests to change the EDPA Atlas, and a specific change for some properties.

Text Amendments
1. This clarifies the encroachments exemption, number 10 in the bylaw.  This was actually one of the nice exemptions as it allows "minor" encroachments of less than 10m squared that do not damage existing native vegetation. 

In their commentary, staff show their true goals by saying that allowing these encroachments would prevent areas from being naturalized in future.  The EDPA is not meant to restore or re-naturalize land, but Saanich staff seem to have this as a criteria for their evaluations.

Their "clarification" is that now it is a cumulative total of new or EXISTING buildings.  This means if you have en existing encroachment due to the poor atlas used to define the EDPA, you have no opportunity for new encroachments.

2. This clarifies the "grandfathering" exemption, number 11  in the bylaw.   Again, their intent is shows that they want to reclaim land currently in use.  They have refined the definition to say that there can be NO ALTERATION to the existing foundation.  Their goal is to ensure the 15m marine setback is achieved.

So, if your foundation is crumbling, it seems Saanich staff want to take advantage of this opportunity to reclaim land.

3. This is only minor change to allows steps to be included as paths.

4. This clarifies exemption 14, which relates to mapping changes.  Several problematic areas come up in the discussion, but the key point is that they propose that ANY mapping change would need to go to council, but you first need to prove to the Saanich Environment Manager that no such animal or plant habitat exists on the property.  How do you do this?  As the bylaw says, you do this by hiring a biologist at a cost of $2500 or more.

5. Here they recognize the hardship caused by the EDPA on small waterfront lots.  Interesting that they don't acknowledge the hardship on other lots (e.g. large lots which are 100% covered by the EDPA).  In any case, they say if you get all your variances approved they MAY (note that this means Saanich still maintains complete discretion) relax the ESA boundary as long as existing environmental values (who knows what that is supposed to mean) and the ESA is restored. 

So now not only are you responsible to protect, you must also restore. 

6. This is an evil exemption.  Basically, in the past, minor and inconsequently intrusions required a covenant to be added to the property.  Now, they will allow an increase the to th EDPA Atlas instead.  But again, this is all at the discretion of staff.  You have no recourse if staff denies your minor intrusions.  I find it interesting that they call the intrusions "minor" and "inconsequential" and yet their solution is to potentially demand a covenant - something that is far form "minor" or "inconsequential".

Part B - Options for Responding to Requests to Change the EDPA Atlas.

It is a bit sickening to read the discussion here.  It specifically says they want to avoid situations where Staff can reject changes to the EDPA, even if the EDPA guidelines support the changes.  Unfortunately, the evidence so far is that this happens today.  The way staff do this is by rejecting the biologist reports - highlighting that the land could be restored, or suggesting that the report did not take into account seasonal vegetation.

It says that Staff have interpreted the EDPA as meaning to protect SEI polygons REGARDLESS OF THEIR CONDITION.  So, your lawn, which is presumably a terrible example of something worth protecting, is still meant to be protected.  Why?  Because Saanich staff want to reclaim and restore it.

It also highlights that there is a difference of opinion within the professional community as to what is really worth conserving, but they want to err on the side of caution - meaning they want to protect by default rather than consider if something is worth protecting. 

The first option proposed would allow biologists to determine if something is worth protecting, but Saanich staff don't like this approach.  Again, showing their true intentions, they want to protect land for restoration even if it is not worth protecting in its current state.  There is no money to restore the ecosystem coming from Saanich.  There is no means to force property owners to restore the land.  What are Saanich staff expecting will happen?  Will the land magically restore itself?  Is this hinting at future bylaws where they will force homeowners to restore the land?  It is scary to contemplate where this might lead.

Staff says that if council goes against their recommendation and choose this option, they should update guideline 3 to make it more restrictive.

The second option basically says that any remappings would turn existing ESA into buffers, which means that no property can actually be removed from the EDPA.  As long as the property is covered, Saanich has a say in your developments (remember from my previous post what "development" means in Saanich).

Again, in this option, they talk about restoration as a goal.  How will that happen?

Their diagrams here are misleading.  Figure 2 implies that for any change, the entire property needs to be removed from the EDPA Atlas.  This is not the case - a remapping should only ensure that actual areas needing protectiong are protected, which means a property might be partially removed.

I find the third option most revealing.  It shows that they want to change guideline 3 in all cases to include buffers where today they are not included as part of that guideline.

It also demonstrates a lot about how staff are currently interpreting the bylaw - they want to protect BEYOND the accepted guidelines, but they are also recommending that really you can only hope to fine tune the mappings.

It also shows that they want council to be involved in ALL scenarios where the EDPA Atlas will be amended.  Is it really a good use of Council's time to have them approve the removal of a house from the EDPA Atlas?

Part 3 - Specifics about the removal of two properties from the EDPA Atlas. 

This gives an excellent example of how staff is ignoring professional biologist recommendations and not correcting the EDPA Atlas. 

In the end, this memo and its suggested changes does nothing to address the concerns of property owners impacted by the EDPA.  It only serves to make an existing bylaw even more restrictive.

<![CDATA[Video of the April 28 Community Meeting is now available on YouTube]]>Sun, 10 May 2015 15:35:44 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/video-of-the-april-28-community-meeting-is-now-available-on-youtubeIt took some time, but you can now see the video of the April 28 community event.  I have put a link on the resources page, but here is a direct view of the video from YouTube.
<![CDATA["Development" in the EDPA]]>Sun, 03 May 2015 21:20:35 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/development-in-the-edpaAs with many complex issues, it is easy to get confused by what is the truth.

One major area of contention with the EDPA is what actually constitutes "development".

The EDPA helpfully provides a clear definition section.  "Development" is anything which involves the "Removal, alteration, disruption or destruction of vegetation."  It also involves the "Removal, deposit, or disturbance of soils."  It further lists 5 more types of actity that constitute "development".

If you listen to Councillor Murdock on the CBC, he says the intent of the EDPA is only to create a flag on your priority so that when a MAJOR change to the land use occurs that it occurs in a way that is sensitive to the ecosystem.

While it would be nice to believe that the EDPA only applies to major changes or redevelopment, the truth is that the EDPA makes no such distinction.  It applies everything it defines as "development" and that definition is so broad as to cover pretty much anything you might do on your property. 

<![CDATA[Community Forum]]>Wed, 29 Apr 2015 12:11:50 GMThttp://edpa.weebly.com/blog/community-forumFor our first blog post, I thought I would start by talking about the community forum last night.

Firstly, a hearty thank you to everyone who attended.  It was a great evening with lots of interesting input.

I would also like to thank Anita, Ted, and Peter for the presentations, as well as Denise for her moderation.  You made the night interesting and lively.

We have added the presentation materials to our resources page which you can download if you wish.

As Anita said, we will be drafting a report for council which we will publish here for your feedback, so keep checking back.  We would like to get the report and the petition to Council by the end of May.

For me, the most inspiring thing was learning that I am not alone in my frustration with the EDPA.  Together we can push for change, we can rebuild the EDPA.